AVELEY’S Parkside ground will be a hotbed of footballing activity this weekend, with three FA Cup matches and a ground-breaking charity game on Sunday.
The action kicks off on Friday evening when Bowers and Pitsea will play host to barking in an Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round tie. Bowers’ plans to start the season at their home ground ran into trouble when the laying of their new artificial surface was delayed and they have started the season as cup nomads.
They had been scheduled to play Aveley in the Bostik North last weekend but that was postponed.
And there is an FA Cup double-header at Parkside on Saturday – though the two matches are entirely separate.
Grays Athletic, who play their home matches at Parkside, will be the ‘away’ team for an FA Cup clash with FC Romania, who are also having ground issues and have elected to play their game at Aveley’s new ground. The tie will kick off at 11am.
And at 3pm Aveley will take to the artificial turf for their own FA Cup game, with Potters Bar the visitors.
The biggest crowd of the extended weekend is likely to come on Sunday when Parkside plays host to a remarkable charity fixture.
In July 2017 Newcastle and Sunderland fans were united in grief for the loss of six year old Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery. Bradley (inset) lost his battle against Neuroblastoma bringing the entire North East region, if not the footballing nation, together.
Two sets of fans from both sides set about organising a charity match to raise funds in his honour. The two groups of opposing lads had never even met each other prior to this but a seven-a-side match between ‘Geordies’ and ‘Mackems’ took place for the Bradley Lowery Trophy on 17 December 17 2017, and more than £7000 was raised.
This money was donated to the Bradley Lowery Foundation’s Child Of The Month in December who was a little girl from London called Isla Caton. Isla’s mum Nicola Caton and dad, Michael Hook are trying to raise £192,000 to pay for their little girl to travel to America to receive a vaccine for her cancer, and they are hoping the football match can help them reach their target.
And, as Newcastle fan Gareth Horsley explained: “This is where a North East and London love affair began.
“Us Geordies and Mackems have fol lowed and supported Isla’s journey ever since and after some of our lads were recently invited to play against ex West Ham pros and other celebrities.
“We decided we wanted to do something again and put our heads together and came up with the idea of fans from Newcastle and Sunderland teaming up together and playing West Ham and Millwall supporters in an 11 a side match, proving the theory that Cancer Has No Colours.”
A squad of 16 players, representing Newcastle and Sunderland, sponsored by rapidly growing North East local company Trade Cars Newcastle from Brinkburn Street in Newcastle’s East End, will travel down with their supporters, friends and families on Sunday to meet a team comprising Hammers and Lions fans.
Aveley have donated Parkside’s facilities to the cause and the game will kick off at 3pm.
All proceeds will go towards getting Isla that little bit closer to America for the life-saving treatment she desperately needs.